The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #1
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
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She'll put her life on the line for him . . .
When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she's intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.
Yet she can never learn his true identity.
Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he's the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she's by his side day and night. But the longer he's with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .
Akira is a healer in the small town of Dunkeld. After the battle of Hoord Moor she heads to battlefield to see if she can help any of the wounded. She finds a man who has been shot in the thigh and tries to help him. When they hear people coming he quickly sends her to find a horse and they head out. You see, the man is a Duke and if he is found to be fighting on the side of the Jacobites he will be imprisoned or killed and have his lands taken from him. Geordie and Akira take off and hide from the dragoons that are never far behind. Geordie dropped his flask with his family’s crest on it so the dragoons know who to look for.
Akira and Geordie avoid the red coats and make it to Geordie’s lands but not before they fall in love with each other. Akira, who’s very proper gives in to Geordie’s advances when he says he’ll take care of her thinking that he’s going to marry her. When he offers to make her his mistress instead she’s heart-broken. She had no idea he was a duke until they got to his castle but that played no part in her feelings for him. He is divorced and he knows that Queen Anne and the bishop will never approve the marriage. He loves her but he doesn’t know what else to do.
The dragoons haven’t given up and they are determined to get Geordie to admit he’s a traitor. They’ll even use Akira to get to him and it may actually work.
I really liked the premise of this book and there was a whole lot about it that I liked. I really loved Akira and her strength. She’d been the sole caretaker of her mother and 3 sisters for the past 10 years and she was happy to do it. She was an amazing woman and I truly admired her. She also stood up to Geordie when she needed to and that was awesome as well.
The first part of the book, while they’re on the run from the dragoons before they hit the duke’s lands, was pretty slow, imho. It was decent but I had to stop myself from skimming ahead on more than one occasion. I know this was meant to be a time when Geordie and Akira get to know each other but there was so much internal thought I found it quite sluggish. I thought that once the pair hit Gordon land things would pick up a bit but it was only a little.
Things really came to a head when Akira headed home and the dragoon who had been after Geordie made his move. I really liked the last ¾ of the book but unfortunately it didn’t make up for the other parts. This got higher marks because I really loved that Jarecki wasn’t afraid to match up a Romany woman with a Duke and made it work. Of course I wasn’t quite convinced at the end of the book that those who were after Geordie were going to give up, but maybe that’s just me.
Geordie grew on me. At the first part of the book I didn’t care for him at all but he showed his true worth throughout the story and I really liked him by the end. He was a good man who had lost his way but had finally found the right path.
Overall I liked the story I just had issues with tempo. Hopefully the next book in the series will be more evenly paced.
Rating 3.5 out of 5